Playing RuneQuest lets us do many things. We can have an exciting epic fantasy adventure in an ancient world, like Conan, Red Sonja, Odysseus, or Alexander. It lets us imagine a world different from our own, one with manifest gods, spirits, trolls, dragons, and the like. That alone justifies the game, IMO.
But playing RuneQuest lets us explore mythology, religion, and spirituality – without requiring that we abandon our mask of secular skepticism in our daily life! While playing RQ, we can experience the world as our ancestors believed it to be – with spirits and gods defining the cosmos, not germ theory, Newtonian physics, or Copernican astronomy. In RQ, we can be devotees of one deity, offer worship to numerous others, deal with spirits, and pay shamans or sorcerers to deal with those things we can’t handle.
The world of RuneQuest operates under assumptions very different from our own. This includes society, gender, and identity – kinship and cult are the basis of social identity for most RQ characters after all!
This can be difficult at first for many players and gamemasters – many are used to playing modern characters operating in a superifically pseudo-medieval setting. But the reward for sticking with it is very high – experiencing fantasy and mythology, gaining insight into very human questions, all the time while having a great time with adventure, exploration, and discovery!
To me this is the unique feature of RuneQuest. My character is defined by their cult (a deep and intimate relationship with a deity) and their kinship groups (family, clan, and tribe) – not by where they fit in some kind of combat support role grid. Religion and myth is a setting to be explored – not simply dismissed with superficial cynicism.